Thursday, June 23, 2011

PKK refutes "declaration of war"

Erbil, June 22 (AKnews) - Turkey's outlawed armed group Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) refuted responsibility for an improvised explosive device explosion that killed two Turkish policemen in Dersim on Wednesday - described by Turkish Interior Minister as declaration of war by the PKK, .Ahmed Daniz , Ahmet deniz

The bombing in Dersim city, which Turkish media sources said was a remotely detonated bomb attached to a police vehicle, comes just days after the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan called on the group to extend a ceasefire they had announced earlier this year.

PKK foreign relations official Ahmed Deniz told AKnews that "We are not aware of the explosion in Dersim today, and we do not know who has carried out the attack"

Deniz refused to give further comments "since i am not aware of this act"

Following the attack Wednesday, Turkish Interior Minister Osman Gunes accused the PKK of being behind the attack which he described as a "declaration of war"

'The bombing was simultaneous with the PKK ceasefire.. doesa ceasefire mean to place bombs here and there to kill members of the Turkish security forces?" the Turkish news agency Dogan quoted Gunes as saying.

Turkish authorities often accuse the PKK for armed attacks inside the country.

PKK has waged a bloody war against the Turkish state for almost three decades that has claimed around 45,000 people many of them civilians.

On Monday, the PKK said in a statement carried by Firat news agency, a news agency close to the PKK, that PKK would extend a ceasefire on two conditions: the inclusion of jailed PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan, in the resolution of the Kurdish Issue, and a public pledge from the country's leaders to end military operations against the outlawed party and commit to a peaceful reconciliation.

The PKK has declared 8 unilateral ceasefires over the years in favor of finding peaceful means to resolve the issue,  but the Turkish state - which along with the US and the EU lists the organization as a "terrorist group - has officially refused to enter into negotiations with them.

Writing by Raber Y. Aziz, reporting by Dilshad Saifaddin (AKnews)

22/06/2011 19:58


US forces barred from Basra province

Basra, June 22 (AKnews) – Basra provincial council has ordered a ban on US forces entry into the province in a show of no support for a US forces stay extension in the country beyond the 2011 deadline. 

US troops in Iraq, US army in IraqAccording to the provincial decree which was passed by the council with a vote of 26 members out of 36, no US troops ill be allowed to enter Basra province.

"The provincial council called on the US forces to evacuate the Basra Airport" Basra provincial council media official Hashim Luaibi told AKnews, "To fill the gaps in the face of armed groups who continue to attack the airport because of the presence of the US forces"

The US forces use Basra airport for their military base in the province. Last week, a US helicopter killed one person and injured two whom they described as insurgents trying to fire missiles at the US base.

An Iraqi lawmaker told AKnews that it was civilians who were targeted by the US helicopter not insurgents.

The local government in Basra has also called on the US forces to compensate victims of their military operations, according to Luaibi.

Luaibi did not make clear whether the decision had anything to do with the recent US helicopter attack in Basra or a call by Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr who called on all Iraqi provincial councils in late May to prevent the US forces from entering their provinces.

Al-Sadr is famous for his continuous resistance to the US presence in Iraq. His movement's military wing Mahdi Army waged a deadly war against the US forces and Iraqi army in 2004 following closure of his newspaper and attempts to arrest him.

Al-Sadr's followers accuse the US of committing "crimes" against the Iraqi people while stealing the wealth of the country.

Head of the Ahrar Bloc in the Basra provincial council, part of al-Sadr's bloc, Mazen al-Mazeni told AKnews that the decision came after the bloc persistently pressed on the council for such a move.

"This decision is considered to be a strong blow in the face of the occupying forces following the crimes they committed against the people of Basra" he said, "this will benefit the country"

According to a 2008 security agreement, the US forces have to leave the country by the end of 2011. The US forces currently keep some 45,000 troops in Iraq.

US officials expect from the Iraqi government to request Washington at some point to keep part of the US forces in Iraq after the US troops leave in 2011.

The Iraqi government is expected to disclose its final position regarding those forces in late August.

Written by Raber Y. Aziz, reported by Baha al-Kadhemi (AKnews)

22/06/2011 20:34

Government official raises US$7 m claim against Baghdad newspaper

Erbil, June 22 (AKnews) - Spokesman for the Baghdad Operations Command (BOC  has filed a lawsuit against a Baghdad-based daily newspaper al-Mada demanding US$7 million on charges of libel.

Qassim atta, qasm ataQassim Atta, spokesman of Baghdad Operations Command (BOC) - a security body reporting directly to the Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki - has raised the claim against the al-Mada's CEO Fakhri Karim and three other staff members of the daily after it published a series of articles, columns and that criticized the way the security forces and government authorities treated protesters.

Baghdad witnessed protests earlier this month as a 100-day period, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had set for his minister to improve performance, expired. The protesters called on Maliki to leave the country because the performance of the government was poor.

Clashes broke out between the protesters and pro-Maliki demonstrators who were said to have been paid by Maliki to chant pro-Maliki slogans.

Al-Mada newspaper accused the authorities of trying to counter anti-government protests by misleading media coverage. In some of the articles published by the newspaper, Atta has been particularly criticized for releasing in accurate information and contradictory comments.

The lawsuit has been criticized by press freedom groups saying the authorities want to silence the media and restrict press freedom.

An Iraqi press freedom group, Society for Defending Press Freedom (SDPF), said in a statement the lawsuit was "unreasonable" and aimed at restricting press freedom by "muzzling the media"

Al-Mada newspaper chief editor Ali al-Hussein said they had received on Monday the official writ from the court indicating that Atta had demanding a compensation of 8 billion Iraqi Dinars (about US$7 million)

"The association considers that the insistence of government officials to exploit the articles of criminal defamation, inherited from the previous era (former Iraqi regime) to raise unfair and illogical lawsuits against journalists and media," the statement read.

The groups went on to say the lawsuit does not only threaten press freedom "gained after 2003 but revokes it especially since such articles prevent criticizing any government employee"

SDPF called on the federal court to scrap those articles in the journalism law that have been "inherited" from the former they "contradict the constitution especially that the article 13 of the constitution clearly states that no legal provision can be implemented that does not comply with the constitution"

By Raber Y. Aziz (AKnews)

22/06/2011 18:42